‘The Defenders’: Sigourney Weaver to Play Villain and Other Surprises from Marvel’s NYCC Panel
As in years past, the hottest and most anticipated panel at this year’s New York Comic-Con was once again the Marvel-Netflix panel, which was specifically going to be focusing on their next series Iron Fist, which premieres on March 17. As usual, there were quite a few surprises. These included a number of clips and the first trailer for Iron Fist, as well as a preview of their next series, The Defenders.
They kicked the panel off with a sizzle reel of al the Marvel Television shows with Netflix so far with a few brief clips from Iron Fist before Marvel Television’s Jeff Loeb came out to moderate the panel. Iron Fist was going to be the primary focus, but Loeb said that they had “just finished shooting the last scene of Iron Fist at 9:00 this morning.”
Before they began, there was a cry of “Can you dig it?” over the P.A. and Erik LaRay Harvey came out, who had just been revealed as Diamondack in the last episode of Luke Cage, so they quickly showed that bit from the last episode of Season 1.
Loeb then introduced the cast of Iron Fist, including showrunner Scott Buck (“Dexter”), Jessica Strout (“Joy Meachum”), Tom Pelphrey (“Ward Meachum”), Rosario Dawson (“Claire Temple”), David Wenham (“Harold Beachum”), Jessica Henwick (“Colleen Wing”) and Finn Jones (“Danny Rand/Ironfist”), (Dawson got the biggest response, maybe because she’s been in every single show in Netflix’s portion of the Marvel Universe so far.)
Before introducing Henwick, Loeb told the story about how Simone Missick’s Misty Knight got such a huge response that they really needed to get Colleen Wing right, and Jessica Hewick nailed it. “When she came in and read for the part, we just dropped the mic and went home, because she is Colleen Wing. Trust me. You’ll be seeing a lot of her.”
Loeb warned that what they were going to show the audience at the panel was “still wet” (i.e. not quite finished), but they began with what seemed like it might be the opening of the first episode, showing Danny Rand arriving back in New York City after being away 15 years. He’s strolling down the sidewalk in midtown Manhattan wearing no shoes with a loose knapsack on his back and dressed very casually, to a Tribe Called Quest tune. He looks up at a big shiny building and tells a nearby vendor, “That’s my building,” which gets him strange “whatever you say, buddy” look. Danny walks into the lobby of Rand Enterprises, getting a similar look from the receptionist who acts as if a homeless just walked in. “Hi, I guess June doesn’t work here anymore,” Danny says. “Doesn’t matter. I’m here to see Harold Meachum,” to which she responds that it wasn’t possible. He responds, “I’m Danny Rand, son of Wendell Rand. I’ve been away a long time.” “And you’re here to see Harold Meachum… one minute please.” She has him wait to the side and he comments he should ride his skateboard around there and then goes over to a hi-tech display in the lobby, noting that it’s new. As he starts watching a presentation about the Rand Corporation, two burly security guards come up behind him and escort him outside. He walks back in and you can guess what happens next, as Danny takes the guards on with a more refined style of martial arts than what we’ve seen in Daredevil. After taking out a number of guards, Danny is confronted by an even larger security guard with a billy club, but Danny pushes him up against the glass while pushing the button for the elevator with his bare foot. The scene fades out with him getting into the elevator.
After the clip, showrunner Scott Buck mentioned he was reluctant to take the job at first, but what convinced him was watching Daredevil and seeing how good it was, and that it was character-driven. “We could approach a show about the Iron Fist pretty much the same way, that we would deal with it, not as a comic book, but as a real character in the real world,” he said.
Finn Jones then told the story about how he found out he was going to be Danny Rand. “It was nuts, it was totally crazy,” he responded. “I thought we’d been screen testing for two weeks back and forth. I remember I was in Los Angeles on Venice Beach, and I just watched the sun set, and I was really nervous. I knew the call was coming. I got back to the car, and I got a call from my agent saying I got the job, and I just flipped and lost my mind.” He talked a little bit about the amount of training he’s had to go through for the part.
It had Danny walking into a restaurant and sidling up to the table where the Meachum spawn are sitting, talking about investments. He pushes Joy over. “It’s hard, really,” he says. “Trying to get my head around all this.” Ward says, “This isn’t the time or the place,” to which Danny says, “You were like a brother to me, a terrible jackass of a brother but still… “ and he claims that Ward sent a guy after him. “Do you hate me that much?” he asks, and Ward hisses, “Yes, because the Danny Rand that I knew, he’s dead, and I want him to stay that way.” They almost get into a fight but Joy stops them and says, “I’m not your sister, he’s not your brother. We don’t want you here.” Danny looks so dejected, she says they can work it out, but he states that he “has Hogarth now” (as in Jerry Hogarth from Jessica Jones). “You can’t deny what’s mine. What my father meant for me to have.” So clearly, there’s going to be a power struggle to get back the Rand Corporation.
“Some might say that you’re my good luck charm,” Loeb said, moving onto Dawson, who responded in kind. “Some might say you’re mine.”
He mentioned that she’d met Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and had been sewing up people for a while, but that she would finally have a chance to kick some ass in the show, to which she replied “I have a good sensei,” giving Jessica Henwick a high-five.
The next clip shown was a hallway fight sequence that was very different from the one in Daredevil Season 1 shown at Comic-Con two years earlier. This one had what looked like Joy Meachum being taken away by a bunch of men, and Danny goes after her, taking on four Chinese men wielding axes with one of them climbing up the wall before being taken out, followed by two others. The last guy remaining flings his axe at Danny who just manages to dodge as it whizzes by his head. Again, it was easier to see Danny’s more refined martial arts style in this sequence, one more based on spiritualism rather than Matt Murdock’s boxing background.
Next up was a scene showing Colleen Wing In action, basically of her in a cage fight with two much larger men wearing a white jumpsuit with a hoodie. It was another spectacular sequence that has her kicking big-time ass in a very physical fight that she starts by running up the side of the cage and attacking one of them. She takes out the first man by having the other guy kick him in the head but the unconscious fighter ends up on top of her. The second guy drags Colleen out from under the first, but she then puts him in an arm lock and literally snaps his arm. So yeah, it definitely looks like they’re going for some hardcore martial arts in this one.
Loeb next addressed David Wenham, stating that he has a very challenging role due to the amount of mystery surrounding Harold Meachum. “It’s not as challenging as that,” Wenham joked in referring to Colleen Wing’s fight sequence. “What was rather intriguing is the fact that it was extremely mysterious, because we didn’t get the scripts until just before we were about to start to shoot them,” Wenham said about the part. “Marvel is a very secretive organization, so they left us hanging. What it actually did was give a great spontaneity to the characters, because we generally didn’t know what was going to happen next to the character. How did I prepare for the piece? A mixture of the source material that you guys provided and a chat we had early on about how to actually play a villain and also, I took some real life examples of captains of industry who are rather complex individuals. I tried to infuse into the performance as well.”
That seemed like a good set-up for the next extended scene, “an exceptional scene” according to Loeb, that shows Harold Meachum, who is also presumed dead, and his first encounter with Danny after being apart for ten years. Danny is lying in bed, head tossing and turning… in a dream. He seems to be knocked out from what some sort of drugging, which we learn later might have been truth serum. As he wakes, he sees Meachum at his bedside, and they have a conversation.
Essentially, it seems like Meachum is trying to make sure that Danny is who he says he is by asking him what song Meachum sung to him as a boy that would “annoy the sh*t out of him.” It was in fact “Danny Boy” and Wenham starts humming and singing a couple stanzas quite menacingly: “I am dead as dead I may well be and you will come and find a place where I am lying…” and more.
Once they realize they are who they say they are, Meachum starts interrogating Danny about where he was, saying, “I understand that you were taken in by some monks, the order of the Crane Mother?” Danny wonders how he knows, but he can’t stop answering Meachum’s questions including the location of the monastery being in K’un-Lun. He says that he was a warrior there and that only when he was fighting did he come alive and that he’s the last in a long line of Iron Fists “the sworn enemy of The Hand” (aka Daredevil’s frequent foes). Meachum keeps grilling Danny and getting answers, but Danny is more interested in performing his duty in destroying the Hand. “Please, Harold, you have to get me out of here,” but Meachum responds, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything. Right now, you should just go back to sleep.”
Now in the past, Loeb has been known to surprise New York Comic-Con audiences by showing the first episode of the show, as he did last year with Jessica Jones, but instead he was allowed to premiere the Iron Fist trailer, which went online shortly after. (You can watch it here if you haven’t already.)
That wasn’t the end of the panel though as the actors posed quickly for the fans and then went off and a voice-over said the famous line from the Punisher’s debut at New York Comic-Con a year earlier: “One batch, two batch, penny and a dime…” and Jon Bernthal came out for the announcement that on Monday they had started filming The Punisher.
“Look, I believe in Frank and his journey and I’m fascinated by it,” he said to the rapt audience. “To the fans of the comic and to the members of law enforcement and members of the military, I’m just so grateful that we get the opportunity to tell another chapter. I give my word on behalf of this cast and this crew that we’re going to do our very best.” He said that he brought a friend and out came Deborah Ann Woll, who was confirmed to be joining the cast of The Punisher as Karen Page.
She joked that the loud audience probably didn’t love Frank as much as she did “which is problematic” and added, “When they asked me to come and do this, I was like, ‘In a heartbeat, absolutely.’ What Frank and Karen got to do last year was some of my favorite stuff.”
That still wasn’t all, though, and Finn Jones came back out with one more surprise as he said he had some friends he wanted to bring on stage, and Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter joined him to a tune, which Loeb claimed would be the new theme music for the upcoming The Defenders series. (It sounded like Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” so we might need to take Loeb with a grain of salt there.)
Loeb then gave the audience one last scoop, as he announced that Sigourney Weaver would be playing the villain in the show, and then SHE came out… although he wouldn’t reveal who she’ll be playing and I’m sure everyone will be trying to figure it out over the next few months. The crowd rightfully ended the panel with WWE-like chants of “Holy Sh*t! Holy Sh*t! Holy Sh*t!”
Iron Fist will be airing on Netflix starting March 17 next year and hopefully they’ll announce the premiere dates for The Punisher and The Defenders sometime soon.